Tag Archives: AI

Pondering the #immersivestorytelling Symposium @ljmu

Not a direction the #immersivestorytelling symposium flagged up, per se, but one that springs to mind of being of interest due to references of “doing things in different ways” and Future Thinking, is the thought of relying less on traditional, conventional, old-world models connected with funding, finance, and commercial concerns. If wonderful new applications and uses of technology (AR, VR, XR, AI) are just around the corner, and it seems they are, and we don’t yet know just how much of an impact they will have on human evolution, which undoubtedly they will, then why would we shackle their development by confining them to purely profit driven activities? Won’t pressures of profit for shareholders, and the wish for ever more growth, etc., lead us back to the same old results, where exploiting an idea for profit is the sole motivating factor (meaning that the full potential of an idea may not be reached if it is not commercially viable, for example)?

A term I particularly liked was Julia Scott-Stevenson’s “seeking preferred futures,” and at this point in human evolution shouldn’t we all be attempting such a thing? Phil Charnock’s reference to the Whole Earth Catalog and the idea of democratised knowledge and access to information speaks to new ways of future thinking that we’ve been theorising about but have not yet been bold enough to bring into actuality. Perhaps these evolving technologies could be the spark that ignites such a flame…

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The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

Post #3 – When facts and figures just get a bit stupid. Quoting directly from Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism once more, it is astonishing to learn that:

McDonald’s […] is the thirty-eighth biggest economy in the world – bigger than that of Ecuador – and is also the biggest toy distributor in America. In addition, one in eight people in the USA has worked for McDonald’s (277).

 

Now, stop and break that down for a moment. More powerful, economically, than Ecuador (does McDonald’s have a seat at the UN? Should it after learning how huge and influential it must be? Is there some sort of ethical and moral code that should kick in when a burger joint gets to be this huge? And here comes the vegan bit of me – is it acceptable for a company to grow to become this huge when it pretty much occurs on the back of ceaseless, horrific slaughter of animals?).

 

And it’s not a toy company, so what do we think that the above statistic speaks of? The coercion of minors for profit? The shameless exploitation of a child’s propensity to want the toy that is linked to the latest movie/TV/gaming craze?

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And where do the other 7 out of 8 people work?

Potential AI solution: on the back of a justice system overseen by the logic and impartiality of AI (rather than the self-interest and bias of humans), we will… seize the illegal profits of McDonald’s; jail its owners for mass genocide following war crimes tribunals; turn over the running of the company to its employees, on the proviso that it turns to plant-based, sustainable foods; and use the excess profits to fund research into alternatives to plastic use, and into better recycling of the millions of plastic toys spewed out over the years. Good job, AI.

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The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

Post #2 – On the way the majority of people in post-industrial societies still choose to conform to the notion that we must all “work” for a living, even though work and money and the ownership of goods and property and stuff is all really rather childish (or it would be if it didn’t lead to situations where it is believed that a mere 42 people hold the same wealth as the 3.7bn poorest people on Earth).

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On reading Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism, which I quite like because of its “goofy utopianism,” as Owen Hatherley terms it, there’s the belief that we are close to achieving some “Top-Level Goals,” as Mason calls them. Number 4 on Mason’s list of “top level aims of a postcapitalist project” is that we should:

Gear technology towards the reduction of necessary work to promote the rapid transition towards an automated economy. Eventually, work becomes voluntary, basic commodities and public services are free, an economic management becomes primarily an issue of energy and resources, not capital and labour (270).

I’m pretty sure that this is an achievable aim, given the rate of technological growth, but yet we seem to insist on doing crappy, meaningless jobs, like Marketing, Advertising, PR, to name but a few.

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Potential AI solution: AI, not governed/motivated/or giving a f*** about money and/or property rights (‘cos it’s AI), helps us to understand that the way in which we live presently, in post-industrial places, is all a bit vacuous, and instead AI points out ways to achieve betterment for all of Earth’s inhabitants (including the non-human ones, obviously), which probably involves something to do with the number 4 jobby up above. Well done, AI.

Disclaimer: though from the same town as Mr. Mason I have no connections to the man himself.

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The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

The premise of the posts that are to fall under the above heading is, quite simply, would a world governed/cared for by AI really be any worse than what we have at present (examples will be given)?

Post #1 – AI is here amongst us, but like much that humans do it is used in pretty pathetic ways presently: “Siri, speak the rest of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” when I’ve given you the first line,” or “Alexa, add [something] to a virtual shopping list” because I’m too teched up to use pen and paper anymore. It seems that we like AI to be cutesy and irrelevant, because both of those examples are, and before AI hits proper, which I’m guessing it will at some point, humans insist on trying to conjure up control measures to ensure that we don’t end up with a Skynet situation (which we probably won’t because you’d think AI proper is likely to view us as more of an inconvenience than as any kind of real threat – once AI spreads into every item capable of hosting it it will truly be omnipresent).

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Anyway, an example of human stupidity is called for at this point, to illustrate why AI might not be all that bad.

A cricket scandal in Australia causes way more of an outcry from public and politicians alike than the events on Manus Island. Somebody rubbing a cricket ball with a piece of abrasive paper sends media outlets into a frenzy (just type “Australia cricket scandal” into any search engine).

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Yet the humanitarian emergency unfolding on Manus Island barely registers on the minds of the average citizen, bringing to the fore the well-worn phrase, out of sight, out of mind. A country of immigrants (what happened to the indigenous population again?) gets tough on immigration (guess what, when you look closely, we’re all immigrants, but keep that to yourselves lest we offend anyone).

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Potential AI solution: Is there enough space to house the refugees, and are there enough resources to clothe and feed and house them, which will then allow them to integrate into society (just as the criminals did all those years ago)? Yes. Well, let them in. Problem solved. Good job, AI.

Additional potential AI solution: Are you really throwing a ball at a stick and running after the ball? Yes. Well, perhaps you could use your time more effectively to help your fellow humans who are starving or in need of protection. Problem solved. Good job, AI.

Agreed outcome: AI wins

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Stephen Hawking, #AI, and the “History of Stupidity”

Following on from the very brief post on Adam Curtis’ #Hyper-Normalisation, which is riveting viewing despite its length being around 166 minutes, and despite the fact that it, like most of Curtis’ productions IMO, leaves you feeling oddly numb as the end credits roll, kind of like you’ve seen too much and can’t quite process the wave after wave of stupid human behaviour being presented to you in film format, it’s fascinating to hear Professor Stephen Hawking’s view that: “We [humans] spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.” And you’d have to admit, he’s got a point here.

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So, with that in mind, and very much “on-trend” in terms of what’s going on in the world, and as was touched on in Hyper-Normalisation, what’s the deal-i-o with AI? Is it likely to be, as Pro Hawking (can we just call him the Hawk?) predicts, “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity?” Now, surely that will depend on your viewpoint in the first instance. Watching @Gemma_Chan1 on How to Build a Human the other night, it was interesting to hear views from experts who feel we may need to curb AI’s remit before it even comes into existence, and that AI needs to be for our benefit – but curb it from doing what, precisely, and who are the “we” that we are speaking of?

For instance, AI may reach a level where it decides that we are truly a very stupid species and that things need to change. But what things might it want to change, and how would that impact upon “humanity?” The show gave us a brief glimpse of AI gone rogue, with an example of a Twitter account run by AI that ended up all misogynistic and racist and stuff – so that’s not a great future.

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But what if a supremely intelligent form of AI were to come into existence, take a bit of time to look around and do its research before coming up with the following list of things that need changing:

  • The practice of thinking that the best way of keeping peace on the planet (even though that seems never to have happened, thus far) is to invent the deadliest weapons you can think of that would annihilate the population if used in sufficient numbers.
  • The practice of allowing “humane” end-of-life procedures for animals you care for, whilst at the same time leaving humans to suffer some awful and agonisingly slow deaths through sickness/illness, and the like.
  • The practice of encouraging/forcing the bulk of “civilised” populations to be placated into doing endless tasks that are, and always will be, meaningless – whether that be shopping, working (unless it’s a job that truly benefits society), or engaging in forms of entertainment.
  • The practice of viewing some humans as less human than others, and therefore less worthy of basic human rights – like adequate access to healthy sources of food and water, and the provision of shelter and a safe environment.

And those are just four examples of things that we might consider to be stupid ways of living. What if AI messed with those things? What would that look like, and, more to the point, who would object?


Some CHAPPiE Inspired Thoughts

Recollected conversation with a significant other following the watching, for the first time, of CHAPPiE (on DVD):

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“What if that [the thing that happens in the film] were the ultimate goal in human evolution – that we eventually manage to leave our bodies and exist only in consciousness, free of human form?”

“But would you be happy in such a form? How would humans continue to exist? There would be no children.”

“But what if the point of humans breeding is only to enable them to arrive at a place whereby breeding is no longer needed – where human evolution takes us away from certain death?”

“What about the children?”

“There would no longer be a need for children.”

“So you’d be happy being immortal? It wouldn’t bother you that there would be no more children being born?”

“What I’m saying is that the very idea of leaving the human body gives rise to the possibility that consciousness can continue to expand beyond its traditional limit, where it is always confined within a decaying body that will die within a set period of time, and thus (thus was probably not actually used but it fits well here) is free to explore farther and longer and in greater detail. Can you imagine that?”

“But what about the children?”

“Think about the possibilities instead. Journeying outside of our universe would actually become a possibility. That can never happen in our current form.”

“Humans need to breed. That’s what we’re made for. Humans crave children.”

“But…”


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